Sajid Shahriar: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Sajid Shahriar is a federal government employee with the department of Housing and Urban Development. He was among the many government employees who were furloughed during the recent government shutdown, according to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. This week, Warren announced that Shahriar will be her guest at the State of the Union address on February 5.

Here’s what you need to know about Sajid Shahriar:


1. Shahriar Works in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing & Lending in Boston & Went Without Pay During the Government Shutdown, Elizabeth Warren Says

Shahriar works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is an equal opportunity specialist in the office of fair housing and lending in Boston, Massachusetts. Shahriar was furloughed during the recent government shut down and did not receive a paycheck, according to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. During the shutdown, he organized rallies in Boston, calling on Republican lawmakers to re-open the government.

Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and likely 2020 candidate, said she had chosen Shahriar as her guest to the State of the Union because she wanted to “send a message” to President Trump. She said in a statement, “I’m glad Sajid will be joining me for the State of the Union and represent federal and contract workers across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the country, many of whom were forced to go without pay for as many as 35 days as a result of the government shutdown. It’s time to send a message to President Trump and Senate Republicans: federal and contract workers are the backbone of our economy and their livelihoods should never be used as pawns in Republican political games.”


2. Shahriar Is a Labor Leader Who Serves as Executive Vice President of His Local Branch of the American Federation of Government Employees

Shahriar is the Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3258, in Boston. He is also the AFGE Vice President with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. During the government shutdown, when Shahriar was furloughed, he helped organize a series of demonstrations in Boston calling on Republicans to re-open the government. Shahriar has said he is grateful to be invited as Elizabeth Warren’s guest to the State of the Union address. “I’m humbled and honored to share that I will be representing federal workers at the State of the Union as the guest of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Thank you to the Senator for continuing to raise the stories of federal workers and the people we serve, and for recognizing the importance of our AFGE union rights,” he said, according to a press release distributed by Warren’s office.


3. While a Student, Shahriar Volunteered Providing Legal Advice to People in Need

Shahriar earned a law degree from Boston College’s Law School. During his time as a student, he worked for the college’s legal clinic, where he provided free legal advice to needy Boston residents. He specialized in providing advice about housing, family, disability, and employment law. As a student attorney working in Boston College’s legal assistance bureau, Shahriar also conducted civil litigation, engaged in courtroom advocacy, and helped craft legal strategies for the people he was helping.


4. Shahriar Holds a Law Degree from Boston College

Shahriar earned his JD from Boston College School of Law in 2016. He also spent a semester studying in Paris. Shahriar also spent six months as a legal intern in the mergers and acquisitions department at Veolia, in Paris. He earned a BA in political science from Northwestern University in 2009.


5. Ronald Reagan Started the Tradition of Inviting Guests to the State of the Union Address

In 1982, then-president Ronald Reagan invited a man named Lenny Skutnik to attend the State of the Union address as his guest. Skutnik was a staffer at the Congressional Budget Office who became a hero when he saved a plane crash victim from drowning. Reagan referred to Skutnik as an example of American heroism in his State of the Union Address. Since then, every president has invited at least one guest along to the State of the Union address, as a way of personalizing their policies. Washington insiders sometimes refer to those guests as “skutniks,” a reference to the very first presidential guest at the State of the Union.

This year, many of President Trump’s presidential challengers — people who plan to run for the White House in 2020 — are bringing along their own guests to the State of the Union. Those guests seem chosen to highlight some of the Trump administration policies that his Democratic challengers disagree with. So, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is bringing a transgender Navy member. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is bringing a labor leader who was furloughed from his job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And California Senator Kamala Harris is bringing a woman who lost her home in a wildfire and who was furloughed during the recent government shutdown.